It’s been a few years now since I mustered the courage to start blogging about my experiences with cancer(s), heart transplant and the death of my mother all within a short timespan. I still shed a tear or two sometimes when I write, but my grief is more manageable now. In general I enjoy writing (yes I’m a narcissist). 🤷♀️
I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my time blogging/vlogging to see if I can identify trends or to establish some sort of take away from this project. You know, some good ol’ fashion self-retrospection that makes me all nervous and uncomfortable, so that I can grow. 🙄
Here are some secrets that have been revealed to me through blogging about death, dying and surviving:
1. We Want to Know the Unknown
My most popular post of 2019, “How I Avoided Death in 10 Steps…” shares my strategies of both not dying and how to go from surviving to thriving. It’s a quick read and as we head into the new decade, perhaps it will give you ideas for new goals or habits. (Yes, this is a shameless plug). I attribute the success of this post to the notion that everyone likes a good recipe of success and my goodness, if it only takes 10 steps to cheat death, well then count me in.
More so, I think people want to know how to handle an unknown or uncomfortable situation (or at least I do). How do we handle something like a heart transplant? Or the knowledge that you and your parent are dying at the same time? How often do we search the internet with the sole purpose of making ourselves feel better and to reduce our anxiety. Really it serves us both, me as the writer and you as the reader. Me, I want my writing to have value and to me that means benefiting my reader. This is the difference between a diary and a blog. A diary serves the writer, a blog serves (or should serve) the reader.
2. People Want to Connect With Other People Who Have a Shared Experience 💞
It was a pleasant to surprise to learn that I have more readers than my handful of friends and family. I have 550 visitors annually to my blog. I realize that this is a modest number, but I don’t think I even know 550 people. Not too shabby for being a tiny pebble in the sea of blogs out there and also doing zero promotion. This year my goal is to reach a 1,000 visitors (we’ll see).
As you might expect, most of my readers are from North American, but I also have a handful of international readers. I’m especially curious about the 1 reader in Jordan. How did they find me? Who are they? Are they a heart transplant recipient? Do they do transplants in Jordan? Jordan, DM me.
I’ve had people contact me from all over the world. Many are heart transplant recipients or are on the wait list. I feel a sense of connection through my blog and I feel honored that people want to talk to me about what I’ve written or share their story of survival. I know it helps me to talk to other recipients. Irvin Yalom, a famous psychologist of group therapy, believes that finding others with your shared experience makes us not feel so alone. This concept is also referred to as, “misery loves company.”
Speaking of misery loves company, please enjoy this random pic of me and my twin sister, Mara, in 8th grade. #tbt
3. My Most Popular YouTube Video Speaks to a Major Concern Facing Americans: Cost of Healthcare 💰💸
My most popular YouTube video with over 1,200 views is “How Much Does a Heart Transplant Cost?” I think this is revealing of where we are in American healthcare and yes, it’s also a curious topic. Americans know all too well the high cost of healthcare, so the exorbitant cost of a heart transplant is not really shocking and more like validating: “yeah, I figured it would cost something like $1.2 million dollars.” It’s like asking how much does a wedding ring from Tiffany’s cost. Um, more than I can afford, that’s for sure.
4. Personal Experience is More Compelling Than Statistics (Fair Enough) 😉
I recieved the most comments on my post, “Writing About My Mum.” This was probably my most painful and personal post to date. I wrote about her on the two year anniversary of her death. I’m not sure if it was cathartic to write or if I just wanted to wallow in my grief, probably a little of both. I’ve cried 1,000 oceans writing about her, so the kind and loving comments really made me feel supported, thank you.
I think readers seem to respond to my personal posts, rather than posts about research because I enjoy writing the personal posts more (perhaps it comes through?). I also think that the internet is rich with medical information that with one search you can usually find your answers, however authentic, personal experiences are more difficult to come by.
Perhaps we share a similar experience of conquering cancer or receiving an organ transplant? Or on the contrary, perhaps you’ve never met someone like me, that’s had a heart transplant (we’re pretty rare). Maybe you want to know what it’s like to have someone else’s heart beating in you (p.s. you get used to it, but you always pause to give respect to your donor). Either way, I appreciate your time and interest in my blog. Also, drop me a comment if you want to answers these questions for me. 📧
5. Be succinct, be succinct, be succinct.
I’ve noticed my readers prefer blog posts in a list format, instead of a long winded opus. I say this based on the number of views for popular posts and it’s also what I personally like to read. Which is why I wrote both, “My 5 Tricks for Dealing with Pain” and this post in list format. I will try to do more of these list. I get it–we’re all busy and sometimes you just want to get to the point.
Finally, I will try hard to avoid repeating myself, which I’ve learned is something I do more often than I intend. For example in several of my posts, I’ve recommended the amazing spoken word poetry performance of “Complainers” by Rudy Francisco. I still say that it’s 3 minutes of inspiration, but alas I don’t want to bore you with repeating myself. 😉
I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. Please send me a comment or DM if you have a question or just want to chat. Thanks again, Jennifer ♻️❤